I fell in love with the words of Jesmyn Ward years ago. Salvage the Bones is a story that has stayed with me while so many others have been quickly forgotten. So it was with great anticipation that I dove into her newest novel.
Young JoJo has a mom. And he has a dad. But neither of them is very strong in the parenting department. Dad’s in prison, and mom Leonnie seemed to have missed getting the maternal instinct gene. Luckily, though, JoJo and his baby sister Kayla have the love and parenting of their grandparents. Life is hard, but there’s always plenty to eat and more than enough love to go around. When it’s time for dad to be released from prison, Leonnie decides that a family road trip is in order. Forget the fact that neither child wants much to do with her. They’re both uprooted against their grandparents’ wishes and off they go. Along the way there’s illness, drug deals, hunger, and handcuffs.
Oh and ghosts. Did I mention the ghosts? Leonnie, JoJo, and baby Kayla it would seem are all blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see spirits. Leonnie is haunted by the image of her dead brother. And JoJo picks up a friend at the prison, a young life lost long ago. Both have unfinished business.
This is the story, and it’s a good enough story that it’s enough. But then add in the hauntingly beautiful words of the author and you have something else. You have a piece of literature that is an epic tale, a tragedy of great proportions that will keep you reading until the very end.
There are no happy endings in this story. But does life always guarantee us as much? If you’re expecting everything to be wrapped up neat and tidy by the last page, then this isn’t the story for you. If, however, you’re looking for a raw and realistic portrayal of life written in the most beautiful way, look no further.
Buy It Now: Sing, Unburied, Sing